John Vanderpool

Feb. 6, 2024–John Vanderpool, director of housing and residence life at Missouri Western State University, is one of five education professionals in the nation to receive a 2024 Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Award from NASPA, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. This award comes as a result of Vanderpool’s fast reaction to a sprinkler pipe burst in one of Missouri Western’s residential halls last year.

Vanderpool was surprised when he initially learned of the award.

“I didn’t really feel like I did much here outside of my job because this is my passion,” Vanderpool said. “But I couldn’t do it without the team I have within residence life, the amazing campus partners and the students that were so patient.”

On Christmas Eve 2022, while most students were away on semester break, Vanderpool and his team learned of a ruptured sprinkler pipe in the common area of Vartabedian Hall. They quickly assembled to build a plan to safely relocate students from Vartabedian Hall to Vaselakos. 

Plans involved a coordinated effort. Residence Life contacted students who were in Vartabedian Hall. Custodial services quickly prepared Vaselakos Hall for move-in. Physical plant, university officials, faculty and staff helped move the students and their belongings safely. And outside contractors were brought in to repair the pipe quickly. 

Vanderpool’s team then moved on to the next challenge, preparing the rest of Vaselakos and reaching out to all who were not on campus to notify them. Then came the challenges of social media and how quickly information can spread. Vanderpool attributes the assistance of marketing and communications staff to curtailing those concerns.

A restoration plan was then mapped out to have Vartabedian back up and running for the summer students and interns. 

To further student safety and foster community this semester, housing andresidence life recently implemented Griffon Gold Community Standards, an initiative that works hand-in-hand with the Student Conduct Code. The goal is to have students realize community and learn how to react when they have violated those standards.

“We’ve already been able to have a lot of great conversations,” Vanderpool said. “It’s also allowed us to react quicker in some ways to some of those violations.”

Griffon Gold Community Standards is ultimately about the safety and comfort of the students who live on campus and building a community where students are happy and proud to live.

News release written by Patty Lashbrook, sophomore convergent journalism and public relations major.

Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit